Housing MarketReal Estate

Homebuyers wary of natural disaster-prone areas

But Florida still among the most popular places to relocate

A new report from real estate brokerage Redfin shows more than 60% of American residents planning to buy or sell a home in the next year are reluctant to move to a natural disaster-prone area experiencing extreme temperatures or rising sea levels.

The Redfin-commissioned survey gathered responses from 1,000 people in August who intended to buy or sell a home in the next year.

The report says two in five respondents claim climate risk plays a role in their decision to relocate. Most of these respondents were younger, were in high income groups, identified as Democrats and were residents of the northeast. More than 71% of these respondents belong to Gen Z , who said they are hesitant to move to these areas. For the same question, only about half the Baby Boomers respondents agreed with Gen Z.

With regard to political inclinations, 69% of the survey-takers who said they are Democrats were unwilling to move to disaster-prone areas, while 58% of the Republican respondents answered in a similar way.

Moreover, 68% of U.S. residents in the Northeast expressed more reluctance than those in the South, totaling 59% of the respondents taking the survey.

Redfin’s chief economist Daryl Fairweather says a shift may arise as young people, who are aware of the dangers of climate change, become a dominant demographic in the home-buying industry. She says most areas are at risk of climate change, including those that could be underwater or have no water at all in the next decade. 

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More than 50% of the respondents making at least $100,000 annually claimed climate risk impacts their decision to relocate, as opposed to the 40% who make under $100,000 a year.

Fairweather said in a statement that affluent Americans can afford to move away from such areas, while lower-income Americans cannot. A rise in home prices and mortgage interest have lessened affordability across the board.

Meanwhile, 66% of the survey-takers believe climate change has impacted their home search in at least one way. The most common reason (17%) was their search had to include particular features which affected their budget. Another factor (15%) was that it caused these homebuyers to search in a different area and timeline.

However, the Redfin survey found that Florida, like other disaster-prone areas, still garners “scores” of homebuyers. Based on its users’ preference data, Redfin observes a high level of migration to areas in Florida like Cape Coral, North Post and Tampa, owing to the relative affordability of homes and warm weather conditions. However, these metros were also affected by Hurricane Ian. 

In a statement, Isabel Arias-Squires, a Redfin real estate agent in Fort Myers, said when buyers ask for locations close to a beach that is not in a flood zone, she has to tell them it doesn’t exist. If they are buying in those areas, she advises homebuyers to purchase flood insurance and impact windows. Hurricane Ian displaced people who are now looking for a place to live, which has contributed to a surge in the demand for rentals, Arias-Squires says in the statement.

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